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Faith conquers psychosis in this engaging Christian-themed thriller.

Every eight years, Jude Allman dies–by drowning, lightning strike, freezing in a snowstorm–and then returns to life. Now, fleeing media vultures and miracle-seekers, he takes up a new identity as a school janitor in small-town Montana, and then sinks into a paranoid funk. Singularly ungrateful for his resurrections, he suspects there may be Nothing after death; in any case, he’s upset with the Almighty for allowing his mother to be murdered–and in church, of all places. God won’t let him be, though, pestering him in the form of Rachel, the born-again mother of his son Nathan, and the mysterious Kristina, who shows up on his doorstep to remind him that God has a plan for him. The plan seems to involve hallucinatory premonitions of others’ deaths, which coincide with a rash of local child disappearances. Is the serial killer the strange old man in the local café? Jude’s school-janitor colleague? Or someone else altogether? Regardless, the story of Jude’s existential crisis and his gradual redemption through the healing power of prayer, forgiveness, good works and the occasional jaw-dropping miracle is compelling, if a bit schematic. The author keeps the religious aspect unobtrusively embedded in a well-paced suspense narrative populated by dynamic characters. Particularly well-drawn is the villain, a megalomaniac calling himself “the Hunter,” who broods creepily over his mystic “becoming” by way of unspeakable atrocities inflicted on the kids locked in his root cellar, periodically self-administering electroshock to maintain his deranged edge.

A workmanlike thriller with a touch of the Divine.

Pub Date: July 1st, 2006
ISBN: 0-7642-0204-9
Program: Kirkus Indie
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